Bois D’Arc man charged in neighbor’s cattle theft, pleads not guilty

A Bois D’Arc man has been charged with theft of livestock and illegal branding after an investigation showed he was allegedly in possession of six head of cattle belonging to his neighbor.
Greene County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Dawn Diel filed a criminal complaint on Wed., Feb. 13, alleging Joseph Tummons, of Bois D’Arc, stole the cows between Dec. 30, 2018 and Jan. 18, 2019, and then branded them illegally.
According to a probable cause statement in the case, Tummons’ neighbor contacted the Greene County Sheriff’s Department on Jan. 18 and said he’d located six head of cattle he’d been missing since Dec. 31, 2018. A deputy came out to the location, photographed the cattle and took an initial report.
The next day, an investigator contacted the neighbor by phone. The neighbor said he’d turned out 80 head of weaned calves 40 days earlier.
That evening, he found a hole in the fence, which he repaired. The next day, however, he checked the fence again. The hole he’d repaired was still in good repair, but then he found a new hole in the fence. The neighbor then counted his calves and found six were missing. He then ran his siren that he uses to call his cattle, but never found them.
The cattle owner then said he called Tummons and another man, both of whom owned property adjoining his. Both said they hadn’t seen his calves. The neighbor said Tummons had been fixing several areas on the fence line between their property, so he knew his cattle had been getting into Tummons’ property. He said he checked every group of cattle where his calves could have gone, but couldn’t find them.
The neighbor also said calves wouldn’t just wander around; they would find another herd to join, and if they had gotten out onto a roadway, someone would have called and reported them. He sold all of his calves running on his pasture on Jan. 14, with the six still missing.
On Jan. 18, the neighbor said he drove westbound past 8247 W. Farm Road 94 and didn’t see anything, but then turned down a backroad and saw six calves which looked like the ones he was missing. He had the siren he used to call his calves in his truck, so he ran it again, and said the calves came running up to the fence line like all his cattle do.
The neighbor said he brands his calves with his brand on the right hip also ear tags them; steers in the right ear and heifers in the left. He took a closer look at the calves and said he saw where tags had been removed from their right ears and numeric tags had been placed in their left ears. The neighbor also said the cattle had been freshly branded on the right hip over where he brands his. He believed the cattle were his and had been moved and rebranded, but couldn’t get close enough to inspect them himself, so he called 911.
A deputy contacted Tummons and asked him to put the six calves in a corral so he could inspect them closer; Tummons agreed to this. The deputy, himself in the cattle business, came out to inspect the calves and photographed them to include their brands. He said the brands were “smeared” due to the branding iron not being held in one spot. He also counted four heifers and two steers, and said the two steers had holes in their right ears consistent with a tag being removed.
The neighbor said he thought it was “odd” that Tummons didn’t want him present when the cattle were put in the corral. Two hours after speaking with the deputy, he hadn’t heard from anyone, so he drove by the farm. No one was there, but he saw the cattle in the corral. He walked up to the corral and looked at one of them, a heifer. He said he saw the bottom part of the “W” on his brand under Tummons brand, and saw where the ear tag had been replaced. He described the brand over his as being at least two weeks old.
After getting permission from Tummons, the investigator inspected four of the calves with the assistance of a veterinarian and a member of the Missouri State Highway Patrol on Jan. 19. The calves were run into a squeeze chute and their winter hair was clipped off to reveal their brands. The inspector reported that Tummons’ brand is registered to be on the left hip while the neighbor’s is registered on the right hip, but Tummons brand was found to be on the right hip on four of the calves. The neighbor’s brand was also clearly shown to be on the calves’ right hips; they were seized and released to the neighbor.
Two other calves were found on property Tummons rents from the Springfield Airport on Jan. 20. They were inspected the same way as the other four, and found to have the neighbor’s brand on them. The calves were likewise seized and released to the neighbor.
In a post Miranda interview on Jan. 20, Tummons admitted to moving the two cattle after they had originally been photographed on the 18th; he also admitted during the interview that he could see the other brand and knew the calves weren’t his. He also admitted to branding the calves with his brand.
The deputy arrested Tummons on Jan. 21 for felony stealing of livestock and booked him into the Greene County Jail; Tummons was later released.
After the complaint against Tummons was filed, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He appeared in court on Friday, Feb. 22, where he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 22, and Tummons was released on his own recognizance.
When the warrant for Tummons was issued, one of the conditions for his release at that time was that he would not own livestock while out on bail. During the hearing on Friday, that condition was changed; Tummons is allowed to own livestock, but he is not to have any contact with the neighbor or the neighbor’s livestock.
In Missouri, stealing livestock is a Class C felony, punishable by a sentence of three to 10 years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine. Illegal branding is an unclassified felony, punishable by a sentence of up to five years imprisonment.
Tummons, a former agriculture instructor at Republic High School, has a past criminal conviction. He pleaded guilty to first-degree trespass in January of 2014. In that case, which was preceded by multiple restraining orders against Tummons, he received a suspended execution of sentence of 180 days in the Greene County Jail and two years of unsupervised probation. The Commonwealth contacted the office of Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson to see if he thought Tummons’ past conviction would have any impact on his sentence if he is convicted. No reply was received as of press time.



Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


Please Login for Premium Content